Last year I picked up Ninja Gaiden 3. Despite being one of my favorite action games since I was a little kid playing the originals on the NES, the latest version in the bloody 3D hack and slash title was not good as we given the review a weak rating of 4 out of 10. To put it lightly, the story made no sense, the some of the best gameplay improvements from Ninja Gaiden 2 was removed, the new bone on steel mechanic felt random, and worst of all the difficulty was cut down to make the game so easy that there was no challenge in playing it.
It felt that the game would go the way of Aliens: Colonial Marines where the Wii U version would be scrapped, but Nintendo and Team Ninja pulled some overtime on making it one of the games to own on the Wii U, entitling this version Razor’s Edge. Now Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge is now on the PS3 and Xbox 360 as well, giving us a chance to review these new changes.
There are subtle differences in the story for Ninja Gaiden 3, mainly in the addition of some new levels for Ryu and the introduction of Ayane from the Dead or Alive series into the story, her focus is mainly on the return of the Black Spider Clan who are working with the Terrorist group called the Lords of Alchemy (LOA). These missions split up the main story as Ryu attempts to fight the LOA and rid himself of the curse called the Grip of Murder.
Of course the story still doesn’t win any awards, but the extra story line does help to keep the game interesting. It feels like the Grip of Murder storyline doesn’t fit well in a hack’n’slash style game where everyone that gets murdered is mainly people who are trying to kill you in the first place.
The major changes is how the game actually plays. The high speed action is back and stronger then ever, and brought back is the missing dismemberment that was including in the original game that made Ninja Gaiden 2 such a fun brawler (as twisted as it sounds.) This gives you the ability to do devastation attacks which instantly kills your opponent in a cool strike. The feature that replaced the dismemberment in the original version called ‘Steel on Bone’ has now been replace as a heavy counter attack and can only attack a few people at a time instead of linking attacks to everyone in the room.
Automatically; this makes the game more difficult and for Ninja Gaiden that is perfect. Attacks takes quite a bit of health and there are only three ways to heal in this version, preforming the ‘Steel on Bone’ counters, using a less over powered ninja magic attack, or reaching a save point. The magic attacks are similar to those used in Ninja Gaiden 2 and doesn’t kill everyone in the room right away, also it can be dodged or blocked unlike the original dragon attack which brings everyone together and kills them in one shot. This is one instance where difficulty does make the game better.
Another new addition is the ability to Level up Ryu and Ayane by earning Karma Points, this system allows you unlock bonus costumes with various affects, upgrade the sword, purchase new moves and combos, as well as new weapons that were missing from the original game like the duel Kitanas and the Eagle Talons. It’s a nice little feature that really make your hack’n’slash more enjoyable. Beating levels unlocks them in the Ninja Challenge modes which gives you the ability to play as Kasumi from the DOA series and Momiji, a childhood friend of Ryu’s. Each has their own distinct play style and weapons to use in this mode.
Graphically, the game has stayed the same, it looks great on the Wii U and the other consoles as well with no visible difference. Multiplayer has stayed the same in this version but it does include the previously paid DLC for maps and additional items.
In the end this is exactly what we needed for Ninja Gaiden 3, while it doesn’t improve the story or the graphics, it fixes the important issues of gameplay and brings back everything that the original was missing. If your looking to give Ninja Gaiden 3 a chance, or looking for a decent Wii U title, Razor’s Edge is the game for you.